The value of the UK’s beauty industry is estimated at some £3.6 billion. It is boosted by the soaring popularity of ‘tweakments’ such as Botox, dermal fillers or chemical peels; all known as non-surgical cosmetic procedures.
This week I led a debate in Parliament to highlight the dangers of a lack of regulation in the aesthetics sector, described to me by some as the ‘wild west’.
The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reported that 69% of its surgeons had seen patients with complications following temporary fillers. An estimated 900,000 Botox injections are carried out in the UK annually, leading to 3,000 complaints in 2022.
Last year new legislation gave the Secretary of State for Health the power to introduce a licensing regime in England.
That is needed to improve consumer safety and reduce the risk of injury and harm arising from ‘botched’ cosmetic treatments, with adequate training for practitioners - including those offering cheaper procedures online.
At present there is no compulsory training for beauty therapists or other non-professionals who carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures. The licensing scheme is an important step towards achieving better outcomes for the industry and consumers and crucial to removing rogue practitioners.
Safety around non-surgical cosmetic procedures was investigated last year by the Health and Social Care Committee, which I chair. One witness described the “filthy” rooms used for procedures, comparing the process to “a conveyor belt.”
We urged the government then to bring in a licensing regime - by July 2023 - with minimum training and qualifications standards for practitioners. It would end the situation we see now where anyone can administer non-surgical cosmetic procedures. We also called for dermal fillers to be made prescription-only substances in line with Botox but Ministers have ruled this out.
In our opinion, body piercing and tattooing must come under this new regulation too. Right now, licensing is decided by local councils, leading to different standards across the country. For-example, some demand that all practitioners have access to their own sink while others are happy for shared sinks, risking cross-contamination.
The current registration process is intended to protect members of the public from the transmission of blood borne viruses such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and other infections. However, registration is a simple process with no requirement to provide proof of qualifications. A new compulsory licensing scheme would ensure that both clients and practitioners are adequately protected by a reliable national standard.
The consultation on this important new national scheme closed last month so I questioned the government on what it will do next to speed up the introduction of a new regime in England.
By comparison, in Wales, a statutory licensing scheme - initially covering four special procedures - is expected to come into force in the summer of 2024. The licensing scheme in England must be introduced without any further delay. Anyone interested in the issue can find my web-page, with various links, at stevebrine.com/westminster
Finally, can I say a huge well done to everyone involved in getting Winchester ‘Christmas City’ looking so splendid as we prepare for the season of goodwill with a little retail thrown in for good measure?
The High Street looks great and we thoroughly enjoyed our first (albeit chilly) trip to the Christmas Market last weekend while in town celebrating my daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Where did that time go? I know many – in particular the teenagers who talk to me – are disappointed not to see the return of the ice-rink but maybe we’ll put that on our Santa list for next year.
You can follow more of my work, in the constituency and in Westminster, most easily via my Facebook page fb.com/stevebrinemp